New law requires boater certification

By Michelle Costanza

May 12, 2014 Updated May 12, 2014 at 8:17 PM EDT

Conklin, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The New York State Parks and Recreation Commissioner is encouraging boaters to stay safe by putting a new law into effect.

Just like knowing the rules of the road, it is also important to learn the laws of the waterways as well.

Just in time for Boater Safety Week, a new state law was took effect on May 1. All operators born on or after May 1, 1996 are now required to obtain a Safe Boating Certificate by completing a boater safety course.

Phasing in the law could cause a few growing pains for some, but Marinas and other boating specialists say the extra education will prove to be a positive change.

"At my age, who never needed a license of any kind, it seems like an infringement. But it's probably a good thing because there are a lot of very dangerous accidents that have occurred on Seneca, Cayuga, the rivers too," said Richard Hobart, owner of Eye Rock Marine in Conklin.

Prior to 2014, only youth operators had to hold a Safe Boating Certificate to captain a personal watercraft.

Boating safety courses will be offered in the area through the State Parks Marine Service Unit, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, or U.S. Power Squadrons. A list of courses in the area can be found
here.

To eliminate the need to carry an extra piece of paper around, you can choose to have the certification reflected on your driver's license as a small anchor symbol.

Before the first ride of the season, Hobart says it is also imperative to check that lights, engines, and horns are working correctly, and that all watercraft have life preservers.

The Coast Guard estimates that 80 percent of deaths could have been prevented simply by wearing a personal floatation device.

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